‘It can be deeply unsettling and moving to challenge your listening habits’ | Interview with Aphexia

In anticipation of her album Interdependence and with the opportunity of the release of Blissful Smile, we had a talk with Aphexia, whose sound, mind and talent are distinct and boundless. Have a look at our interview with the German artist below!

PHOTO BY CLEMENS RICHARDSON / MANDOS ART

Describe your sound in three words please!

intimate, contrasty, genre-subverting

How did your involvement with music start?

I’ve always been making music, to be honest. Eversince I was a little child. I come from a family of musicians, so I was lucky enough to have music as an integral part of my life essentially from birth, and also privileged enough to have a piano at home. Everything else was just one next logical step after another. Trying different instruments, teaching myself to play the notes I hear, starting to write my own songs, experimenting with recording techniques and so on. And finally, when I was about 12 years old, I starting experimenting with a DAW (back then it was still the old Logic Platinum for Windows, before Logic was sold to Apple) and digital sound synthesis for the first time. It truly was a revelation to me. Being able to create any sound our ears are even capable of hearing from scratch, essentially from nothing. It became my greatest fascination right then and there and that’s how I slowly started making electronic music.

You are busy with many ongoing projects, one of which is Aphexia. How do you relate to each of them?

My other electronic solo project, Ecstasphere, is very conceptual. Working on an Ecstasphere album has always been a very intellectualized process of slowly piecing together a coherent narrative or concept. When I work on an Ecstasphere release, after I’ve had the initial sparking ideas, usually a lot of themes and interrelated stylistic elements for the album are already fixed before I start with the actual composition and production process. Most of the time I know what I’m writing about and how I’m gonna write about it before I start writing.
With Aphexia it’s quite the opposite. It’s a very impulsive process for me. Usually I start working on an Aphexia song sitting right in front of Cubase and trying not to think too much about what I’m gonna do. Quickly following my impulses and instincts before I can intellectualize them, just creating stuff that I haven’t even heard in my own head before – that is really the core of this project for me. So when I’m working on an Aphexia album, it is usually in hindsight after about half of the tracks are already finished that I can formulate what the album is about, analyzing the common themes that have emerged in what I’ve written so far and expanding upon those.
And right now I’m working on a brand new project, but I’m not gonna spoil too much about that. It’s still too early to go public with it. Let’s just say it’s very different from my previous work. More on that in a few months, I guess!

You are currently preparing your album “Interdependence”. Tell us a few words about the concept behind the album.

Yes, I would love to. “Interdependence” is essentially about questions of identity and self-conception, how it is shaped by the perception of others, the connectivity of desire and predisposition and the paradoxical state of simultaneously being complicit in and opposed to systems of injustice. It’s just as much about internalized toxic ideals as it is about trying to break free from them.
Stilistically I think it is best described by the term Post-Progressive Electronica. Compared to its predecessor “The Gates”, the proggy and even sometimes jazzy elements are way more pronounced on “Interdependence”. I also deepened the experimental bass music aspect of the sound significantly on the upcoming album.
“Interdependence” is due to be released on April 18th and I hope you’ll all give it a shot, though I suspect it might be somewhat of a challenging listening experience.

What is your favourite album of the past year?

I can’t really pick a single favorite from 2020. But I’m gonna name a few that I’ve particularly enjoyed.
“Unspoken” by Luo is an extremely innovative and emotionally charged take on combining electronic music with band sound, I love this album and still listen to it at least twice a month.
“Spirituality and Distortion” by Igorrr truly is one of the highlights of his discography in my opinion.
“The Call Within” by Tigran Hamasyan is just as good of a record as you’d expect from Hamasyan, deliciously proggy and really emotionally intense.
And then there is “Exempt” by 2kilos &More, an amazing electronic post-rock duo, and “Orphne” by extremely talented singer/songwriter, pianist and loopstation goddess Maud The Moth.
I would also like to give a shout-out to a really inspiring electronic jazz album that has just been released in February 2021: “Arrival of the New Elders” by Elephant9. I’m currently completely obsessed with it.

You have stated that you are a person who is ‘utilizing its power for artistic forms of resistance’. Could you elaborate a bit more on this idea please?

Yes, of course. I made that statement in regard to the power of music and its potential for subversion. I believe that subversive art forms opposed to the dominant culture can be an extremely important part of all movements trying to challenge hegemonical values. Art in general and especially music has always been and will always be drenched in ideology. Music is a particularly powerful weapon as we are constantly surrounded and affected by it in our everyday lives, constantly being sold things through music, often without being aware of it. In particular, being sold neoliberal ideals and ideology. Music helping us function better as agents of capitalism. But music has that same power the other way around. It can be deeply unsettling and moving to challenge your listening habits. It can open up the mind to alternative conceptualizations of expression, community, the self and society. That’s why I’ve stated in my long-form description of “Interdependence” that I’m trying to utilize the power of music for artistic forms of resistance.

Your ideal place to play live would be?

To be perfectly honest, at the moment I can’t even think about that question without hurting. Last week it’s been a year since I’ve been on stage. The pandemic has changed our lives as musicians profoundly.
Right now all I can say is that I’m really looking forward to playing again as soon as it’s safe. It doesn’t really matter where, as long as I’ll have the honor of being confronted with a passionate audience of music lovers with open ears, minds and hearts so I can shed my skin and truly connect with them.

Tell us something about you that not many people know about!

I own a mushroom brush.

Thanks Aphexia!

Follow Aphexia
Facebook/Bandcamp

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